- UNITED NATIONS
- EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
- NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
- HEALTH CARE
- LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS
- UNDOCUMENTED WOMEN
- UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
- DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
- PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES
- OTHER NEWS
- PICUM IN THE NEWS
BULGARIA / Border police pushes back irregular migrants, refugees and asylum seekers into Turkey
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, presented on 29 April in Sofia, Bulgaria, claims that Bulgarian border police pushes Syrians, Afghans and migrants and asylum seekers originating from other countries back towards Turkey. This is done systematically, including against whole groups of people, with at least 44 cases involving 519 people since November 2013. HRW calls on the Bulgarian government to put an end to the massive push-back of irregular migrants across the Turkish border and to the use of police brutality. The NGO Border Monitoring Bulgaria (BMB) reported the case of a Syrian woman and her four children, who entered Bulgaria irregularly but were pushed back by the police into Turkey the next day with the use of excessive force and violence. BMB also reports that violence and humiliation are a regular practice in detention centres. Both HRW and BMB call on EU states to halt deportations to Bulgaria under the Dublin Regulation, according to which asylum seekers should be returned to the country they entered first in the EU.
Sources: Dnevnik, 29 April 2014; Human Rights Watch, 16 April 2014
GREECE / Greek Coastguard rescues migrants from stranded fishing boat
More than 300 migrants, mostly from Syria and Egypt, were rescued by the Greek Coastguard from a stranded fishing boat and transferred onto an oil tanker near Crete. The rescue operation took place during rough weather conditions and according to reports, merchant ships and a US naval ship joined the rescue at sea. The migrants included 40 children and 24 women and were transferred to a reception centre on the island.
Sources: Euronews, 01 April 2014; Mpelembe 31 March 2014
SPAIN / Report on situation of human rights at southern Spanish border
The organisation Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) released its annual report “Derechos Humanos en la Frontera Sur 2014” (Human Rights in the Southern Border 2014) in April 2014. APDHA highlighted the situation in Ceuta and Melilla after the recent border crossing of 200 sub-Saharan migrants into Melilla on 28 February 2014 (See PICUM Bulletin 15 April 2014), underlining violations of fundamental rights that the Spanish government committed during this irregular border crossing. Noting that Ceuta and Melilla are the only land borders between the European Union and Africa, the report concludes that current border policies reinforce the separation between rich and poor and cannot be justified as they violate human rights. Instead, a change of policy is needed to meet the realities of migration in the long term. The organisation proposes political and legal actions such as providing more regular channels for migration and expanding family reunification criteria. To view the full report, please click here.
Source: Periodismo Humano, 22 April 2014
CAMPAIGN / Show us your border
The organisation Andalucía Acoge launched a new campaign called “Muéstranos tu frontera” (‘Show us your border’) on 5 April 2014. The campaign aims to better understand what drives people to risk their lives while trying to cross borders by showing borders we perceive in our everyday lives. Participants can submit photos of their personal barriers, borders and limits, and struggles in our daily life. To send a photo or find out more about Andalucía Acoge’s campaign, please click here (in Spanish).
CRC / Children’s complaints mechanism comes into force
The third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (OP3) entered into force on 14 April 2014, meaning that children are able to complain to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) when their rights are violated, in countries where the mechanism has been ratified. These are currently: Albania, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand. OP3 provides three possible mechanisms to challenge violations of children’s rights: individual complaints, inquiries (looking at serious or widespread violations) and inter-state communications. Like other international human rights mechanisms, it exists for when protection fails at the national level. Therefore, OP3 may not always be the most effective mechanism to address a particular rights violation. Nonetheless, by creating the opportunity to bring a complaint on any issue related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child or its Optional Protocols, OP3 protects a broader range of children’s rights than any other international mechanism. For more information read the Child Rights Information Network’s Toolkit on the complaints procedure. A campaign for ratification is also ongoing called Ratify OP3 Coalition.
Source: Child Rights Information Network CRINmail 1372, 9 April 2014
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MIGRANTS / Labour exploitation of migrants
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, François Crépeau, released a report on labour exploitation of migrants on 3 April 2014 which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014. It provides an overview of the activities carried out by the Special
Rapporteur, including some reflections on the 2013 High-level Dialogue on International
Migration and Development. The report notes that irregular migration is frequently a result of a lack of regular migration channels, despite an often unrecognised need for their labour in countries of destination. Acknowledging the particular vulnerability of irregular migrant workers, the report recommends opening up a greater number of regular migration channels and effectively sanction exploitative employers of irregular migrants, which would lead to fewer instances of irregular migration, and less exploitation of irregular migrants. To read the full report, click here.
EUROPEAN POLICY DEVELOPMENTS
EU / Candidates for President of the European Commission address irregular migration
Leading candidates for the position of President of the European Commission took positions on irregular migration in a 90-minute primetime debate on the German public TV channel ZDF on 8 May 2014. The candidate of the European Socialists, Martin Schulz, argued that not everyone could enter the EU but everyone should be given a chance to seek a better life. He added that providing regular channels for migration would relieve some of the burden on asylum systems and would ensure more humane procedures. Conservative candidate, Jean-Claude Juncker, emphasised that no one is illegal but that irregular migration needs to be addressed. A week later, on 15 May 2014, a bigger TV debatetook place in Brussels including, besides Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt of the Liberals (ALDE), Alexis Tsipras of the European Left and Ska Keller of the Greens. Ska Keller highlighted that the EU should be more welcoming towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Several far-right parties in various EU member states have capitalised on feelings of economic insecurity making the aim to reduce irregular migration as well as migration of citizens of new EU member states a prominent feature in their election campaigns.
Sources: dpa, 8 May 2014; BBC 15 May 2014
EUROPEAN COMMISSION / Consultation on child protection systems
The European Commission is developing guidance on integrated child protection systems. The aim of this guidance is to provide information on EU legislation and policies relevant to integrated child protection systems, to clarify where the EU can support national child protection systems, and to illustrate good practice on integrated child protection systems and to promote means of exchange of good practice in cross-border/transnational as well as national contexts. In order for a wide range of stakeholders and organisations to give input, a public consultation has been launched and will run until 3 July 2014. The consultation provides an opportunity to highlight the gaps in the protection of all children. Access the consultation and submit your contribution here. For further details, read the press release.
EU PARLIAMENT / DG for External Policies releases a study on migration flows in the Mediterranean and the EU’s foreign policy
The European Parliament’s DG for External Policies released on 12 March 2014 an analysis on: “Mediterranean flows into Europe: Migration and the EU’s foreign policy”. The study presents a review of instruments of EU external policies relating to migration and border management and highlights the deficiencies of the security-driven approach that is currently adopted by the EU in the context of migration and border management. The study argues that the European Parliament should play a central role in ensuring that the protection of human rights is considered as a key concern in relation to migration policies and presents recommendations to the European Parliament in order to ensure full respect for human rights law.
Source: Directorate-General for External Policies Policy Department, In-Depth Analysis, March 2014
COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Report addressing young migrants rights at age 18
The Council of Europe adopted a report entitled “Migrant children: what rights at 18?” on 13 March 2014. The report considers the vulnerability that young migrants face – both unaccompanied and those that have been accompanied by their parents or other caregivers – when they reach the age of majority and lose any protections that have been afforded to them as children. The report’s recommendations and the accompanying resolution focus on unaccompanied migrant children, and call for transitionary measures to ensure that young migrants’ rights are protected. The report and resolution are available here.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE / Resolution on access to nationality calls for access to birth registration regardless of residence status
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution on “Access to nationality and the effective implementation of the European Convention on Nationality” on 9 April 2014 (Resolution 1989 (2014)). Among the recommendations, the Assembly calls on member states to “strengthen procedures for birth registration, if need be, so as to eliminate obstacles to birth registration for newborn babies, irrespective of their immigration status, and raise awareness of such procedures among stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness”. Read the resolution here.
Source: University of Girona Chair of Immigration Rights and Citizenship, Bulletin of Legal and Institutional Policies 23, March 2014
REPORT / Mid-term review of Greece’s Council Presidency
Amnesty International published a mid-term review of Greece’s presidency of the EU on 23 April 2014 arguing that the presidency should have taken a stronger stance on leading EU action to address the protection of the rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees. Amnesty International welcomed the Presidency’s commitment to combat violence against women and to prioritise the development of plans for the EU Commission’s Justice and Home Affairs ‘post-Stockholm’ programme which the organisation considers an opportunity to place human rights at the core of the EU’s policy. However, in the report “Greece: Frontier of hope and fear” released a few days later on April 29, 2014, Amnesty International condemns Greece for failing to end the widespread practice of pushing back refugees and migrants arriving at its borders.
Sources: Amnesty International 29 April 2014; Amnesty International 23 April 2014
FRANCE / Regularisations increased in 2013
The French Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, released figures on 10 April 2014 for regularisations for the year 2013. Overall, 35,204 regularisations were registered. This is a 50% increase compared to 2012. The increase in regularisations is said to be primarily due to Manuel Valls’ 2012 circular which established preconditions for regularisation such as a minimum stay of five years (See PICUM Bulletin 17 December 2012). The circular also aimed to simplify regularisation based on employment. However, the obligation to provide an official pay sheet prevented many irregular working migrants from regularisation. Although regularisations increased in 2013, the rate of deportations remains high at the same time.
Source: Le Monde, 10 April 2014
SPAIN / Undocumented migrants prohibited to use cybercafés
The Spanish government wants to prohibit undocumented migrants from making calls or using the internet in cybercafés. The measure was approved by the Council of Ministers, under article 24 of the draft Public Safety Bill (anteproyecto de ley de Seguridad Ciudadana) on 9 April 2014. According to the new rule, private businesses such as call centers and internet cafes are obliged to fulfil the obligations of recording documentation of users. In case of non-compliance owners of such establishments will be fined between 1,000 and 60,000 euro.
Source: El Diario, 9 April 2014
GERMANY / Staff of reception centre fined for denying urgent medical assistance to migrant child
A court in the Bavarian city of Fürth ruled on 15 April 2014 that three staff members of the reception centre in Zirndorf, Bavaria have to pay fines for denying urgent medical assistance to a boy of a Roma family from Serbia. In 2011, the boy suffered from a life threatening meningococcal infection with visible black spots on his face, arms and legs. Two janitors of the reception centre, however, did not call an ambulance when the parents asked for help. Another staff member who was also fined argued that she is not eligible to issue certificates of illness for migrants to see a doctor. According to the court, all three could have called emergency assistance. The family finally walked to the next village where they got help from a pediatrician. The pediatrician stated in the trial that the boy was in a life threatening situation and should have been brought to a hospital immediately. An expert of the University of Erlangen said during the trial that, even if treated, the disease leads to death in 90 percent of cases. The boy who was about one year old at the time, stayed for two weeks in an induced coma and meanwhile had several skin transplantations and one finger and one toe amputated. The family filed charges against the reception centre staff with support of the Bavarian Refugee Council. On the day of the ruling, media reported on another case in the area of Hannover where a migrant mother whose 1-month old baby was seriously ill, was rejected at the reception of a hospital as she did not have a certificate of illness. The baby died one hour later.
Sources: Süddeutsche Zeitung 15 April 2014; Nürnberger Nachrichten, 30 October 2013; ProAsyl, 16 April 2014
ITALY / Information on registration of migrant children in the health system in Lombardy
The organisation NAGA has produced a flyer explaining that the region of Lombardy has recently approved a resolution making it possible for children of undocumented migrants and EU citizens without health insurance, that are under 14 years of age, to have free access to public health care services, including having a paediatrician. The flyer, available in Italian, English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian, also explains clearly how to register one’s child for health services. The flyer is available for download, as well as an explanatory video and the relevant documents here. The resolution referred to an agreement of the State-Regions Permanent Conference, which was previously rejected by the Lombardy region. In response, the NGOs ASGI and SIMM issued a formal motion to the region of Lombardy, calling for it to comply with the national agreement to ensure equal access to paediatric health care for all children irrespective of residence status (See PICUM Bulletin 10 October 2013).
US / Study finds that undocumented migrants are less likely to use health services
Following claims that undocumented migrants contribute to problems such as high costs and emergency department crowding, a study published on 5 May 2014 by the University of California Los Angeles’ Center for Health Policy Research found that undocumented migrants use health services less than citizens in California. Using data for the period between 2009 and 2010 from the California Health Interview Survey, the researchers found that 11 percent of undocumented adults in California had visited a hospital emergency room compared to 20 percent of U.S. born adults in California. 90% of U.S.-born children had at least one doctor visit as opposed to only 78% of undocumented children in the state. According to estimates, undocumented migrants comprise 6.8% of California’s population but make up 24% of the state’s uninsured population.
Source: Kaiser Health News, 5 May 2014
REPORT / Médecins du Monde publishes findings on the health condition of the most vulnerable people in Europe
Médecins du Monde published its report “L’accès aux soins des personnes confrontées à de multiples facteurs de vulnérabilité dans 27 villes de 10 pays » (Access to health care for people facing multiple vulnerability factors in 27 cities of 10 countries). Based on data collected over the course of 2013, the report focuses on care of pregnant women and children taking into account the cases of almost 17,000 patients across Europe, in Turkey and Canada. Over 60 percent of pregnant women which approached the service of Médecins du monde in the 27 cities had no residence permit. The report also puts a focus on impacts of the crisis and notes that irregular migrants are disproportionately affected by racist attacks such as in Greece and frequently cannot turn to authorities to access justice and help. The report concludes that health policies should not be used as migration control tools which is against recommendations of European and international institutions. Moreover, physicians should oppose policies that are against their professional ethics.To read the full report (in French), click here.
Source: Médecins du monde international network, press release, 13 May 2014
LABOUR AND FAIR WORKING CONDITIONS
SUBMISSION / Organisations call for migrant workers’ rights
Amnesty International, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) made submissions to the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families’ (CMW) Day of General Discussion (DGD) on workplace exploitation and workplace protection, held on 7 April 2014 (see PICUM Bulletin 15 April 2014). Amnesty International’s report, for instance, outlines labour migration policies which give employers control over their employees’ statuses. At the example of Qatar, the research shows that a significant number of employers effectively leave their employees undocumented, by not making arrangements for their residence permits and accompanying ID cards. The report also notes a higher risk of labour exploitation for migrant workers whose visa depends on one employer. To view all submissions, click here.
US / Launch of page on temporary foreign worker visas
The Global Workers Justice Alliance launched “Visa Pages” – U.S. Temporary Foreign Worker Visas”, an online resource providing information on temporary foreign work visas on 31 March 2014. The resource explores the nine most common non-immigrant visas that U.S. employers use to bring temporary foreign workers to work in the U.S. It also includes information on enforcement mechanisms and challenges to access to justice for migrant workers. In May 2012, the Global Workers Justice Alliance published “Visas, Inc.: Corporate Control and Policy Incoherence in the Temporary Labor System”. The findings revealed a lack of transparency and government oversight, resulting in abuse of both foreign and U.S workers. According to the best guess of the U.S. government, between 700,000 and 900,000 foreign citizens enter the U.S on temporary foreign work visas each year. They work in low-wage jobs in agriculture and domestic work, specialty occupations in health care, education and information technology. For more information click here.
Source: Global Workers Justice Alliance press release, 31 March 2014
REPORT / Impact of regularisation programmes on employment opportunities for undocumented migrants
On 28 March 2014 the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) released its final report for a study on the impact regularisation had on employment opportunities for migrants who were in an irregular situation in seven EU countries. The report, entitled “Feasibility Study on the Labour Market Trajectories of Regularised Immigrants within the European Union (REGANE I)”, was funded by the European Commission’s DG Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (DG EMPL) and was carried out from October 2012 to December 2013. The study, which was based on explorative qualitative research, provides insight on how the regularisation process affects migrants’ success in the labour market. It concludes that opportunities to escape the informal labour market are shaped by a variety of factors, including the recognition of qualifications, access to (vocational) training, the length of residence (until regularisation), gender, the welfare system, the labour market structure and, finally, the migration regime. Over the past two decades, at least 3.5 million persons have been regularised in the EU as whole through time-limited regularisation programmes and several hundred thousand persons have received regular residence status through permanent regularisation mechanisms. To view the full report, please click here.
US / Migrant women take preventive contraception fearing rape on their route to the US
Many women who cross the US border irregularly take contraceptive pills to prevent unwanted pregnancies due to the possibility of being raped on their journey to the United States. Anna Ochoa O’Leary, Professor at the Department of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona, has carried out research on the issue and stated that some of the women also take injections because they have a longer-term effect. Undocumented women are particularly vulnerable to being assaulted and physically or mentally abused. This includes violence during their journeys as well as abuse and exploitation when staying irregularly in their country of destination.
Source: Latino Daily News, 10 April 2014.
UNDOCUMENTED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
EU / Migrant children at risk of poverty and social exclusion
Save the Children has launched a new report entitled “Child Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe: A matter of children’s rights” urging a comprehensive rights-based approach to tackling poverty and social exclusion in Europe and implementation of the European Commission Recommendation “Investing in Children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage” (see PICUM Bulletin 11 March 2013). The report recognises the persistent risks of poverty and social exclusion faced by children with a migrant or minority background. The report is available for download. The EU Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion has also launched country reports for the 28 member states, as well as a synthesis report, on implementing the Commission Recommendation “Investing in Children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage”. Entitled “Investing in children: Breaking the cycle of disadvantage: A study of national policies”, the synthesis report assesses what member states would need to do to implement the European Commission Recommendation. The report calls for, among other things, the strengthening of the implementation of children’s rights across the policy areas covered by the Recommendation. The reports are available to download.
FRANCE / French courts rule on child’s right to access courts
This month the Conseil d’Etat – France’s highest administrative court – took an important step to provide children with access to justice. The Council ruled that a child can initiate legal proceedings when his or her fundamental freedoms are at stake. In the past, children only had standing before the courts if they had been legally emancipated (from dependence on their parents). Now, where a child does not have the capacity to take legal action, he or she can still have standing before a judge when emergency measures are necessary to protect a fundamental freedom. The case arose when a local judge ordered an unaccompanied refugee child to be placed in care. The local authority denied the child support, which left the child homeless and unable to seek protection from the courts.
Source: CRINmail 33, 24 March 2014
MALTA / Malta commits to ending detention of migrant children
The Prime Minister of Malta has issued a statement committing to end the detention of children in the country, on the occasion of Malta’s Freedom Day on 30 March 2014. A group of NGOs released a press release on 31 March 2014 welcoming the Prime Minister’s statement as “an important first step in the process to revise the current reception regime to provide the appropriate shelter, care and on-going support to children reaching our shores” and stating that they are keen to explore how to support any initiatives, programmes and procedures necessary for effective implementation. Malta’s policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers and migrants has been heavily criticised by civil society and the international community. Read the joint NGO press release here.
Source: International Detention Coalition, April 2014
NETHERLANDS / Court finds asylum criteria for Children’s Pardon justified
The Court of Appeal has found that the different treatment of children with and children without an asylum history in the Children’s Pardon regulations is justified. The Children’s Pardon (kinderpardon) is a mechanism to regularise children who have lived in the Netherlands continuously for more than five years before turning 18, and who had previously claimed asylum unsuccessfully (See PICUM Bulletin 27 January 2014). The criterion that the child must have claimed asylum is justified with reference to the long period of uncertainty and the responsibility of the Dutch authorities. Read the judgment here (in Dutch).
Source: Stichting LOS, Newsletter, Volume 4 No. 9, 28 April 2014.
REPORT / Improving and monitoring protection systems against child trafficking and exploitation
The IMPACT project – Improving Monitoring and Protection Systems Against Child Trafficking and Exploitation – has released its final report, a transnational analysis, which focuses on the structural factors that contribute to creating an environment in which the exploitation of children is made possible. The promotion of human rights standards (in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) and their implementation into practice is considered the foundation on which anti-trafficking responses can lead to more sustainable results, based on evidence that children are better protected from exploitation when their rights to a safe and healthy development are safeguarded in practice, in line with international standards. Strengthening the capability of the public administrations to implement child rights policy into practice, is also considered a key strategy for reducing the risk of exploitation, enhancing children’s resilience and offering stronger protection from exploitation and trafficking. This approach is considered complementary to the traditional anti-trafficking responses, proposing strong partnerships, cooperation and coordination of all the relevant sectors and actors involved. The structural discrimination faced by undocumented children is addressed throughout the report. The transnational report is to be read in conjunction with the national reports, for Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Portugal. All the reports are available to download here.
US / Preventing childhood statelessness in Europe
The European Network on Statelessness has released a report entitled “Preventing childhood statelessness in Europe: Issues, Gaps and Good Practices”. The report maps discriminatory practices that make acquisition of nationality by children born in Europe dependent on regular residence, as an area that needs to be addressed in order to prevent childhood statelessness. The report recommends that governments, in line with international standards, ensure that all otherwise stateless children born on the territory of a European state acquire a nationality promptly, and that the inadequacy of safeguards to prevent statelessness for children born on the territory – including restrictions based on residence status – is addressed as a matter of priority in those countries with large, existing stateless populations. The report is available here.
Source: Coram Children’s Legal Centre – Migrant Children’s Project, April 2014
US / Children participate in protests against deportations and family separation
Children and youth belonging to various migrants’ rights groups have been increasingly campaigning for undocumented migrants’ rights. This includes protests where children risked arrest. Activists’ protests also increased because of the upcoming midterm elections. However, many of the young people participating in the protests have experienced how their own family members were deported and openly stated that they chose to participate in protests despite the risk of arrest and other consequences. Meanwhile, President Obama has ordered a review of his administration’s enforcement efforts with the aim of making deportations more humane. According to a White House statement on 13 March 2013, there is “deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system.” In November 2012, the Applied Research Centre published a report entitled “Shattered Families” which revealed that thousands of children are currently in care because their parents have been deported or detained (see PICUM Bulletin 7 December 2011).
Sources: Washington Post, 2 May 2014; The New York Times, 13 March 2014
DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
DENMARK / Many non-deportable Iranians stay in limbo
The organisation Refugees Welcome has suggested that refused asylum seekers should have the right to have their cases re-evaluated if deportation has not been feasible within three years. This is the case for a large number of Iranians in Denmark who have not been granted asylum but who cannot be deported as Iranian authorities have announced that assisting in providing travel documents for forced deportations is against Iranian law. These Iranians remain in limbo in the country. In 2013 a report by the Danish Immigration Service showed that over 100 unsuccessful asylum seekers, most of whom are of Iranian origin, remained more than 10 years in the asylum system and over 600 people between 3 and 10 years. The refused Iranian asylum seekers do not want to leave Denmark voluntarily for fear of persecution in their country of origin and are not entitled to work regularly in Denmark.
Source: Sameksistens.dk, 1 April 2014.
FRANCE / Unaccompanied children detained in transit zones
Each year, about 500 unaccompanied migrant children are detained in France’s transit zones at the borders. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), unaccompanied children can be held in one of more than 50 transit zones for up to 20 days, during which time the government claims they have not entered France. This allows the French government to deny due process rights to these children. Unaccompanied migrant children who are in the country are usually not detained and are given full asylum hearings. The findings are a result of HRW’s follow up research on their report entitled ‘Lost in Transit’ from 2009 which documented insufficient protection of unaccompanied migrant children in airport areas.
Source: Human Rights Watch, 8 April 2014
HUNGARY / Hungarian Helsinki Committee releases statement on detention conditions
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee (HHC) released on 28 March 2014 a report outlining migration detention conditions in Hungary. The report is based on findings of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee’s visits to several detention centres in the country. In July 2013, Hungary adopted new asylum laws which allow to detain migrants on grounds such as a perceived risk that they might go into hiding from authorities and when identity or nationality of the person seeking recognition is uncertain. The report notes that family reunification has become more difficult and the HHC also recorded cases of children below the age of 18 who were detained. Moreover, the report records human rights abuses such as beatings of detained migrants. Following the findings, the organisation Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary (Migszol) organised a protest against migration detention conditions on 17 May 2014. To read HHC’s report (in Hungarian), click here. To read the English language National Country Report on Hungary of the Asylum Information Database (aida) on detention in Hungary, click here.
Source: Migrant Solidarity Group Hungary, May 2014
SPAIN / Migrants on hunger strike in detention centres
A group of 97 migrants detained at the Centre for Identification and Expulsion (CIE) of Valencia went on hunger strike on 15 April 2014. The protest started when authorities decided to deport a group of 11 migrants from Mali without giving them prior notice or informing them of their right to apply for asylum until right before their deportation. Following pressure from several NGOs, the deportation of nine migrants was stopped at the very last moment. Many of the migrants ended their hunger strike shortly after. According to testimonies, this was also due to intimidation by the detention centre’s director. The protest was also an expression of anger at the poor and inhumane conditions at the CIEs. Some of the undocumented migrants had lived and worked in Spain for years; others had entered the country crossing the fences of Ceuta and Melilla.
Sources: El Diario, 19 April 2014; El Mundo, 15 April 2014
UK / Protests spread in detention centres
During the first week of May, protests by migrants in UK detention centres spread. More than 150 detainees in the Harmondsworth detention centre near Heathrow airport occupied the main courtyard in a sit down protest and began a mass hunger strike to protest the conditions in detention. They also sent a letter with demands to the UK Home Office. The demands include an end to the ‘Fast Track’ system, under which those seeking asylum are immediately imprisoned before their claims are even heard, as well as further mistreatment in detention. Moreover they address the lack of sufficient legal aid and health care. On 5 May, migrant supporters protested at Harmondsworth as well as at the Dungavel detention centre in Scotland.
Sources: Workers’ Liberty 2 May 2014; Right to Remain, 7 May 2014
UK / Death of an undocumented migrant women at Yarl’s Wood detention centre
On 30 March 2014, a 40-year old undocumented women detained at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre died. After allegations that the woman called for help shortly before dying and but was not given any medical assistance, the immigration minister James Brokenshire assured to investigate the case. The Yarl’s Wood detention centre, run by government contractor Serco, has frequently been critcised for human rights abuses. Campaigners have been calling for the closure of Yarl’s Wood detention centre. In the past years, 12 deaths were recorded in detention centres in the UK. Moreover, detained migrants have protested against the conditions. In 2010, for instance, 70 women went on a hunger strike to protest against their detention and the conditions at Yarl’s Wood.
Sources: The Guardian, 30 March 2014; The Guardian, 31 March 2014
UK / Young woman deported alone, before completing studies, despite campaign
The case of a young woman who, along with her family, had her claim for asylum refused, has been the subject of a large-scale legal, media, public and political campaign to postpone her deportation to Mauritius. The 19-year old student’s case sparked a petition which has 175,000 signatures as well as a protest through London. The 19-year-old’s lawyers had wanted her to remain in the UK so she could take her case to the Court of Appeal. In a letter to the Home Secretary, Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee called the decision “needlessly cruel” and argued there was no “compelling reason” why the student should be deported before being allowed to sit her examinations within the next month. Yashika Bageerathi, was deported separately from her family due to her age. Her mother and siblings also face deportation from the UK. Ms Bageerathi’s detention in the Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre has also been questioned in the media.
Sources: BBC News, 2 April 2014; Channel 4 News, 2 April 2014
US / Campaign to end detention bed quota
In recent years, Homeland Security in the US has detained record numbers of irregular migrants. A Congress directive requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep an average of 34,000 detainees per day in its custody, a quota that has steadily risen since it was established in 2006 by conservative lawmakers. The organisation Detention Watch has started a campaign to raise awareness of the quota and to encourage people to call on Congress to eliminate it. Detention Watch states in the campaign that the quota forces the use of facilities that have poor track records of human rights abuses and gives an incentive to target people for deportation in order to fill detention centres.
Source: Detention Watch Network, May 2014
PUBLICATIONS AND OTHER RESOURCES
EU / Report finds victims of trafficking go unidentified
The European Migration Network has released a report mapping identification of victims of trafficking in international protection and forced return procedures in Europe. While acknowledging the potential of EU law in providing a holistic framework for the protection of victims of trafficking, the report highlights that there is evidence that some victims go unidentified, with the consequence that they are not granted the protection and/or assistance available to them under EU law. For instance, the study found that only in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, authorities responsible for forced return of third country nationals screen for indications of trafficking. There is little quantitative data on the number of victims of trafficking in human beings identified in international protection procedures who are actually granted a protection status for this reason. Figures for third country nationals who were victims of trafficking and granted a protection status were reported in Norway with 27 persons between 2009 and 2012, four persons in Finland between 2008 and 2012 and two persons in Spain in 2013. If a third country national who is subject to a return order is identified as victim of trafficking, most member states have mechanisms in place to suspend the return order at least until it is determined whether the victim is eligible for a residence permit or protection status. The report, entitled “Identification of victims of trafficking in human beings in international protection and forced return procedures”, highlights barriers to identification and positive practices and is available here.
EVENT / Global Forum on Migration and Development
The seventh Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) took place from 14-16 May in Stockholm, Sweden. National and global leaders discussed the benefits of migrants to destination countries and to society as a whole and addressed urgent issues such as irregular migration and labour migration. The GFMD Civil Society Days, chaired by PICUM Director Michele LeVoy, were held from 12-14 May in Stockholm, Sweden bringing together nearly 300 migration and development leaders from all over the world. The Civil Society Days aimed to drive forward the five-year eight-point Action Plan which was proposed at the UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in October 2013. Both events were preceded by the People’s Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights (PGA) in Stockholm from 9 to 11 May 2014 which gathered grassroots migrant and diaspora networks and communities from around the world to share information and develop joint actions and campaigns on current and emerging issues related to migration. To read the PGA’s key messages, click here. To read the report on the Civil Society Days, click here. To watch key speeches during the opening ceremony of the GFMD, including by UN Secretary General and other dignitaries, click here.
CAMPAIGN / Denouncing hate speech before EU elections
ILGA-Europe (European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) and ENAR (European Network Against Racism) launched an appeal for European elections free from discrimination and intolerance on 19 March 2014. This includes a new online campaign entitled “#NoHateEP2014” which denounces racist, xenophobic and homophobic candidates in this year’s European elections. The campaign video explains the choice given to a European Union voter to vote for candidates that support equal rights and opportunities. The campaign also includes a reporting form to monitor incidences of hate speech in the context of the elections and infographics. For more information on the campaign, click here.
FILM / “Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American”
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, made a documentary about his life as an undocumented migrant in the United States, entitled “Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American”. In 2011, Mr Vargas made his irregular status public in an essay published in The New York Times Magazine. His grandparents migrated regularly from the Philippines to the United States in the 1980s. When Jose Antonio Vargas was 12, he was sent to follow them. Since then he stayed in the US irregularly. In his documentary, Mr Vargas emphasizes that he is American but without documents and the dream to have a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants in the United States. To find out more about the documentary, click here.
PROTEST / March from Germany to Belgium
With the slogan “Freedom, not Frontex”, refugees and migrants together with supporters and activists will march from Berlin, Germany to Brussels, Belgium from 17 May to 28 June 2014. The march will start in Berlin and go to southern Germany, Strasbourg, Luxembourg ending in Brussels. The program includes activities to mobilise participants and supporters before the event as well as local actions to raise awareness of the situation of refugees and migrants and to call attention to the EU’s border policies. Everyone is welcome to join or to support the crowdfunding campaign. For more information in various languages, click here.
PICUM IN THE NEWS
ITALY / Arrivals in Lampedusa and EU migration policy
The local Italian online news platform Targatocn published an article about migrant arrivals in Lampedusa in connection to EU migration and border policies. It mentions the role terminology plays on how irregular migration is received and speaks in this context about PICUM’s promotion of accurate terminology.
Source: Targatocn, 8 April 2014
PRESS RELEASE / World Health Day
On the occasion of World Health Day on 7 April, the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) highlights the essential role that local and regional authorities and non-governmental service providers play in ensuring that all people can realise their right to health, regardless of residence status. Examples from across Europe showcase how local and regional authorities, while often facing budgetary constraints, opt to ensure improved levels of health care for undocumented migrants and better overall public health in their communities. To read the full statement, click here.
PRESS RELEASE / International Labour Day
On the occasion of International Labour Day on 1 May, The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) calls attention to persisting labour exploitation of undocumented migrant workers and urges governments to implement tools ensuring labour rights protection for all migrant workers, regardless of residence status. To read the full press release, click here.
This newsletter was compiled by PICUM, with contributions from Alexandra Micha, Lilian Seenoi, Borislav Gerasimov and Charlotte Gazany Thomsen.